Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa on Friday asked party leaders and workers to brace themselves for the May 19 zila parishad and block samiti elections as “there is no questioning of pulling out from the battle despite the heavy odds we are facing.”
He made these remarks during a meeting with party candidates of Tarn Taran district at a marriage palace in Patti after some Congress leaders felt that it was no use continuing with battle of the ballot since the SAD-BJP government was “using all means to terrorise Congress candidates and force them into submission”.
Moreover, most workers felt that had become sitting ducks as their licensed weapons had been taken away by police while Akalis were allegedly roaming the state and openly brandishing guns and pistols. Congress workers pointed to the brutal murder of Sukhraj Singh and said that this could well be their fate also.
After hearing the views of many Congress rank and file, Bajwa said that there was no question of withdrawing or boycotting the Panchayati Raj Institutions' elections and that he would personally lead the battle against the Akalis. He told them that he would stand by them all through the campaign and a beginning was made from Patti.
“Come what may, we will not run away from the election arena. We will fight these political terrorists as we had fought the AK-47 wielding terrorists and defeated them to bring peace in Punjab,” Bajwa said as his party workers raised their arms to show support for the PPCC chief.
Bajwa seems to have made a beginning in lifting the morale of his party in the Majha belt as he visited the family of Sukhraj Singh on Thursday to condole his death and assure them that the party would always stand by them.
His interaction on Friday were yet another attempt in this direction and he declared that he would go to every nook and corner of the state to campaign.
Bajwa to meet election commissioner
Later, speaking at a press conference in Amritsar, Bajwa said that he would meet Punjab election commissioner SS Brar to demand deployment of central paramilitary forces for these elections as the state police were functioning as a “tool of the Akali party and dancing to their tunes.”
Central forces must be deployed to ensure free and fair polls, he added.
Asked about the chances of his party, he remarked, “We stand a good chance if the elections are impartial. But in the present circumstances, I am not sure about such chances.”
He said that he would also demand total videotaping of voting process inside and outside polling stations and booths. He has also demanded that employees working on contract basis or on extension of service should not be deployed for poll duty.
Demands peace memorial
Claiming that the construction of Operation Bluestar memorial inside the Golden Temple complex was not a wise decision, Bajwa said that if at all a memorial was to be constructed it should be in the memory of 33,000-odd persons who lost lives at the hands of terrorists. It should be a peace memorial, he added.
“The chief minister had given an assurance in the state assembly that the memorial inside the Golden Temple complex will not be dedicated to any individual but will be a gurdwara. He has not kept this assurance,” he added.
Unemployed youth will file case
Bajwa declared that after the Samiti and Zila Parishad polls, he would ask his party leaders to enroll the names of unemployed youths in the employment exchanges in the state. The names of 1,000 youths in each assembly constituency of the state will be enrolled.
“Thereafter, these youths will move the Punjab and Haryana high court against the state government to demand unemployment allowance as the SAD had promised in their poll manifesto,” the PPCC chief added.